We think we know the ones we love. Our husbands, our wives. We know them–we are them, sometimes; when separated at a party we find ourselves voicing their opinions, their taste in food or books, telling an anecdote that never happened to us but happened to them. We watch their tics of conversation, of driving and dressing, how they touch a sugar cube to their coffee and stare as it turns white to brown, then drop it, satisfied into the cup.                         -Andrew Sean Green (The Story of a Marriage)
Your blogger is tired. And, even worse, barely cooking these days. I’m currently living a kind of bare bones existence–eat, write, sleep, grade. Or some variation of the same theme. At moments like these, life takes on some kind of quasi-poetic cyclicality. I fell under the spell of such a moment when I was walking across a dark and foggy campus yesterday afternoon; the clock, the landmark to beat all landmarks on the UCB campus, was striking 4. I felt a bit like Mrs. Dalloway, feeling time all around me–cutting through the air, ruining the mid-afternoon peace and reminding me of all that had yet to be done. It really does create a sense of urgency; you can’t help but find yourself inadvertently walking just a little bit faster. Even with the time change–that supposed “extra” hour we gained this past weekend by manipulating the clock–there’s never enough time in the day. Such realizations keep you humble, if nothing else. 
While I haven’t really had much time to cook on a nightly basis–November, my friends, is the point during the semester when things begin to spiral out of control: deadlines loom, work piles up and the days start to feel (and look) shorter–I did find time to make a fast, yet pleasant meal with my Tuesday dissertation buddy last week. Tired from an afternoon of contemplating Blok’s treatment of the Russo-Japanese War and from reading about Soviet humor and post-modernism, we went the simple route: a cheesy and garlicky kale salad courtesy of Melissa Clark’s lovely NYTimes column and the Roasted Lemon Chutney recently posted over at 101 Cookbooks (the idea was toasted, open-faced sandwiches with goat cheese and chutney, just as Heidi suggested). I can now safely say that not only will kale be eaten more frequently in my household (it seems versatile), but also that chutney–especially with roasted fruits– is here to stay. Once the weekend (fortunately a long one this upcoming weekend!) rolls around, I’d like to try to make up a recipe for one with roasted apples….We’ll see what I manage to come up with. 

Speaking of chutney, this past week also involved another trip to the symphony, but this time for some Richard Strauss. Before the concert, the Greek and I went to Dosa (a kind of South Indian crepe made from rice and lentils) for dinner, which was a nice mid-week treat. While the food was a little too spicy for my tastes (I like heat, but I don’t like for my lips to tingle and for my mouth to burn while eating; food should be pleasurable, not painful!), it was still good and the flavor combinations were interesting: fennel and spinach, spicy calamari, tomato chutney and cocktails with hibiscus nectar, coconut milk and chili (I ordered the Peony; I also prefer a cocktail with a nice name).

The symphony was festive (see the skeletons?), but the Opera House was even more so; I was fascinated by the lights.

….but reality is always lurking just around the corner. Once the mid-week SF adventure was over, it was again time to return to the serious business of daily life–reading, studying, grading and, adding a most important thing to the list, apartment hunting. The Greek and I, who are planning on moving in together as soon as we a) find an acceptable place and b) have time to gather our belongings and set off into the great beyond (or something like it), attempted to see a place on Saturday afternoon. The whole enterprise was a huge fail–we couldn’t find the place (Panoramic at Panoramic; don’t you love labyrinthine locations?), it was raining, there were no signs…So, we drove to Walnut Creek, to a little “Bulgarian cafe“, where we had crepes and coffee. We attempted to work there, but we were driven out by the cigarette smoke (yes, pockets of Eastern Europe–complete with nasty nicotine habits–exist even in suburban California).

Ultimately, however, it was okay; we returned to a warm and toasty apartment. We made beef stew (it was stew weather, as well as meat and potatoes weather) and looked at more apartment ads. We saw our first official apartment today, which was kind of cute, but reeked of garbage, had stained, chipped sinks (not to mention a rather petite oven! This is a concern!) and, when we ran into the woman who lived in the neighboring apartment, mentioned that she was moving out since the landlord refused to fix the heat. I can’t live without heat. The Greek was also not all that impressed. Tomorrow we see a cute, but potentially slightly overpriced apartment in a cute neighborhood. *fingers crossed*
Now you see why there’s little time to cook, right? Fortunately, I have something cheesy and delicious in my archives–something that would make my Italian ancestors really happy. This secret will be revealed after Wednesday’s dissertation meeting. Yes, this feels like a momentous week. Thank goodness it ends on Thursday. 

One thought on “When Dining Gets Serious…

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